Pointe du Hoc was located on the coast to the west of the Omaha beach landings and was the position of six 155mm cannons with a range of 25,000 yards. These cannons had a commanding view of both Omaha and Utah beaches and the potential to cause much damage to the invading force. The area had been bombed since May and then grew in intensity during the three days and nights before D-Day. During D-Day, the USS Texas bombarded the point as did 18 medium bombers of the Ninth Air Force at H-20.
The point stood on cliffs between 85 to over 100 feet high at whose base was a very small rocky beach that offered no protection. Because the point was positioned on near impregnable cliffs, the Germans had concentrated their defenses in anticipation of a ground assault from inland. Above were heavily fortified concrete casements interlaced with tunnels, trenches, and machine-gun positions around the perimeter. Although the 716th Infantry Division was thinly stretched along 30 miles of the shoreline, approximately 200 German troops (125 infantry and 85 artillery men) were garrisoned in or around the point.
The task fell to Lt. Col. James Earl Rudder's 2nd Ranger Battalion and called for 3 Companies (D, E, and F) of the battalion to scale the heights. Company D was to approach the heights on the west, while E and F were to attack on the east. The main Ranger force (5th Battalion and Companies A and B of the 2nd) were to wait off shore for signal of success and then land at the Point. In addition to destroying the guns, the Rangers were to move inland and cut the coastal highway that connected Grandcamp and Vierville. They were then to wait for the arrival of the US 116th Infantry from Omaha Beach to the east - scheduled to relieve them at noon on the 6th. Once linking up with the main force, they were then to move on Grandcamp and Maisy to the west in order to attempt to link up with the forces that were to land at Utah beach.
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Tags: World war 2, battlefield detectives, point du hoc, world at war, WW2, axis, allies, D-day, normandy, invasion, Fortress europe, Hitler, national socialism, FDR, Churchill, luftwaffe, wehrmacht, waffen SS
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